How Do You Make Stir Fry Beef Tender?

Here at The Woks of Life, we have a ton of beef recipes in our archives, so we wanted to demonstrate to everyone how to cook beef for stir-fry, including the step-by-step procedure for velveting beef for Chinese cuisine.

We’ll advise you to use our favorite beef cuts, and we’ll demonstrate how to cut and marinate beef the way Chinese restaurants do.

The preparation and cooking instructions are always important details in all of our recipes, but I thought it was time to write a post specifically about how to properly prepare beef for the wok!

How to tenderise beef – easily!
  1. Sprinkle 3/4 tsp baking soda (bi-carbonate soda) on 250g / 8oz sliced economical beef cuts.
  2. Toss with fingers, leave for 30 minutes.
  3. Rinse, pat off excess water.
  4. Proceed with stir fry recipe. It can be marinated with wet or dry seasonings, or cooked plain.

Best Beef For Stir-Fry

The best cuts of beef to use for stir-fries are discussed first if you’re wondering how to prepare beef. Personally, I prefer skirt steak, flank steak, sirloin, and beef loin flap sirloin tips.

It is entirely up to you whether you want to trim the beef fat. We urge people to purchase organic and grass-fed beef because it is ancestral and Paleo. The fat content from these animals are better for us. If using a conventional cut, I advise trimming some extra fat and attempting to keep the meat leaner.

How Do You Make Stir Fry Beef Tender?

Best Beef Stir-Fry Marinade

A good cut of steak doesn’t need much seasoning. Most of the time coarse sea salt and pepper will be more than enough. To add more flavor to beef stir-fry marinade, my recommend using my I Heart Umami go-to beef marinade – Coconut aminos (soy-sauce substitute), Red Boat fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, and ground black pepper. You can swap sesame oil for olive oil if you can’t have seed oil. You can also skip black pepper if you are on AIP.

How Do You Make Stir Fry Beef Tender?

How Long To Marinade and Velvet Stir-Fry Beef

If you use my preferred beef marinade, 15 minutes in the fridge or even up to 24 hours is a great amount of time to marinate the beef for stir-fry.

Best Pan For Stir-Frying

Home cooks are specifically mentioned because most household stovetops will never reach the same heat intensity level as restaurants. The stainless steel skillet is, in my opinion, the best pan for stir-frying. A 12-inch skillet is ideal because it will give you more space for stir-frying. For cooking for one or two people, a 10-inch skillet will work better. The next ideal pan for stir-fry is cast iron. Both skillets conduct and maintain heat well. For stir-fries, stainless steel is marginally superior to cast iron because it is much lighter and simpler to lift and toss. The top 7 stir-fry mistakes to avoid can be found here.

How Do You Make Stir Fry Beef Tender?

The temperature of the skillet

The temperature of your skillet plays an important part in Chinese stir-fry. Watch my Youtube video on how to properly preheat your skillet for stir-fry two ways and be sure to subscribe to I Heart Umami Youtube channel!

How To Know When Pan Is Hot Enough

Method 1: Heat a skillet over medium-low heat to prepare for the water drop test. Test the temperature of the skillet with ½ tsp water. One or two beads will form right away when the skillet reaches the ideal temperature, signaling that the pan is ready.

Method 2 – Pre-heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Carefully place your hand 2. 5-3 inches away from the surface to test the temperature. The skillet is ready when your hand feels too hot to be close by.

This is the method I use more often. Compared to the water drop test, it is simpler but requires more judgment. Your skillet’s type and thickness will determine the timing; a thinner skillet will heat up faster than one made of a thicker material.

How Do You Make Stir Fry Beef Tender?

If you are a blogger or chef and have had success with your beef stir-fry as a result of reading this blog post, send me a link to your blog or recipe post. Your success story will be reviewed and added to my website with pleasure!

How To Velvet Beef for Tender Beef Stir-Fry

  • Slice the beef thinly (a little thicker than 1/8 inch thin at a 45-degree angle) and against the grain.
  • Include coconut aminos, fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, or olive oil to the I Heart Umami beef stir-fry marinade.
  • Replace the corn starch with arrowroot starch, and add a little baking soda to help the beef become tender and velvety.
  • Mix thoroughly, then place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Observe the guidelines below to prepare a fantastic Chinese beef stir-fry:

  • Select the right cut of beef
  • Slice the meat thinly, 45 degrees against the grain, and marinate for at least 15 minutes.
  • Use a stainless skillet and preheat the skillet well.
  • For approximately two minutes, without moving it, sear the beef in a single layer.
  • Serve it with vegetables and at room temperature or hot.

Recipes you can try

Get more wholesome cooking advice by subscribing to I Heart Umami, and discover how to prepare 10 delectable Paleo meals in just 10 minutes each.

How Do You Make Stir Fry Beef Tender?

How to make beef stir-fry tender

  • Slice the beef thinly at a 45-degree angle against the grain. Each slice should have a thickness of slightly more than 1/8 inch but less than 14 inch.
  • Add I Heart Umami coconut aminos and baking soda to the marinade for the beef stir-fry. Baking soda will tenderize the meat. Arrowroot will help create a golden brown sear. Gently combine and let sit for up to 24 hours (or for 10-15 minutes) in the refrigerator.
  • Preheat a 10-12 inch stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Test the temperature of the skillet with ½ tsp water. One or two beads will form right away when the skillet reaches the ideal temperature, signaling that the pan is ready. OR Carefully place your hand 2. To check the temperature, place your hand 5–3 inches from the skillet surface. The skillet is ready when your hand feels too hot to be close by. If your skillet is overheated (i. e. Simply leave it to cool down for a few minutes if you’re smoking.
  • Add oil. When the beef is golden brown, about 2 minutes should pass with no movement in a single, even layer in the pan. There may be some overlap between beef slices, but that’s totally fine.
  • For approximately 30 seconds, cook the opposite side using a spatula with a firm tip. Please refrain from overcooking the beef as they will become watery and less flavorful. Place the beef and pan juice in a bowl and set aside. If you have pairing ingredients (i. e. while preparing the other ingredients, cover the bowl, and keep it warm.
  • If using, garnish with sesame seeds, scallions, and dry chili flakes.

Visit my Whole30 Pantry guide here to learn more about my Asian-inspired paleo pantry.

How to tenderise & marinate beef for prefect stir fry like in Chinese restaurant


How do the Chinese make beef so tender?

Chinese cuisine calls for velveting meats like beef, pork, or chicken before stir-frying them. Velvet can be made in a number of ways, but the most fundamental one is by marinating meat with at least one ingredient that will make it alkaline. This is what tenderizes the meat, especially cheaper, tougher cuts.

How do you make stir fry meat not chewy?

Although they are naturally tough, cutting “against the grain” (slices with short muscle fibers are easier to chew) will make them less chewy. Each slice is made up of long muscle fibers that are more difficult for your teeth to break down if you cut against the grain.

How do restaurants make beef so tender?

The meat in restaurants may be marinated with chemical meat tenderizers in addition to velveting it before cooking. Papain or bromelain, which are enzymes obtained from fruits, are frequently the active ingredients.

How do you tenderize beef for stir fry without baking soda?

Vinegar’s acetic acid dissolves the fibers of meat, making it more tender and flavorful. Method: Soak your meat in vinegar before cooking it, or add a tablespoon of white vinegar to your cooking liquids.

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